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Extension E-Newsletter

Extension E-News

Greetings for May 2013

Beverly SparksBeverly Sparks, Associate Dean for Extension, 706/542-3824,

Extension Colleagues:

The close to another academic year is upon us and graduation ceremonies took place last week on our Athens, Griffin and Tifton campuses. Congratulations to all of our 2013 graduates of the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences. More than 200 new CAES graduates are now ready to enter the workforce and/or go on to graduate school. I am certainly looking forward to hiring some of these bright young graduates seeking careers in Extension.

Great news! Over the next two months, we will be welcoming several new Extension faculty to Tifton and Athens. Dr. Mark Abney arrives in Tifton on June 1st and will be working in research/Extension on peanut entomology. On July 1st, beef cattle specialist Dr. Jacob Segars and vegetable horticulturist Dr. Tim Coolong will report to their new positions in Tifton. And, also on July 1st, Dr. Jillian Fain will become our new dairy/youth livestock program specialist in Athens. Please welcome these new colleagues to Tifton and Athens and into our Extension family.

The Extension state fiscal situation for FY13 has been clarified and Governor Deal has signed off on budget. It is now time to contact our state legislators and thank them for the support they provided. We received funds in the college for renovations and repairs to facilities, equipment purchases and $7.5 million for replacement of cabins at Rock Eagle. In addition, there were four faculty positions included in the budget including a peach horticulturist, beef cattle specialist, a director for the Food PIC and a dairy scientist to work in the area of heat stress. Please let your local legislators and commissioners know how much their support is appreciated and that we will invest those dollars wisely.

Highlights of activities in the last month:

We are working to fill critical vacancies on the district leadership teams in Southwest (ANR-PDC) and the director of county operations. The jobs have been announced and the screening committees are at work.

Thanks to Jeff Christie for doing a great job with the Extension exhibit and to our GACAA leadership for another outstanding Farm House at the annual meeting of the Association of County Commissioners of Georgia (ACCG) in Savannah. We had great attendance and many county officials went through the exhibit and into the Farm House event on Saturday and Sunday. Thanks to everyone for the time and energy that was dedicated to the Farm House events and for interacting with and informing county officials about our work.

ACCG meeting 2013

National 4-H Gala 2013In April, I represented CAES at the National 4-H Foundation Board of Trustees and the National 4-H Gala in New York City. Georgia 4-H'er Tess Hammock, Georgia 4-H President Tifara Brown and Cheryl Varnadoe also represented Georgia 4-H at the event. Tess is a student member on the board of trustees and Tifara provided entertainment for the group prior to the gala ceremony. It was an outstanding event and I am very proud of the accomplishments of these two young ladies.

In this issue of Extension E-News:

  • Tony Tyson updates on filling of county agent positions across the state;
  • Arch Smith reminds 4-H agents and specialists of the impact they are making in the lives of Georgia youths;
  • Deborah Murray writes about an amazing $1 million dollar gift from Coca-Cola to expand the Walk Georgia program; and
  • Steve Brown encourages us to fight complacency.


County Operations

Tony TysonTony Tyson, Director of Extension County Operations, 706/542-1060,

Forty-six New County Agents Hired in the Last 12 Months!

I'm sure most of you have noticed over the past year Steve Gibson has sent out quite a few position announcements to help fill county agent positions across the state. If you were hired in the past two years, that may not seem like a big deal. But if you were around during the lean years (2007-2011) you are more likely to appreciate what this means.

Along with the national economy, our budget began to take some big hits in 2008 and it continued until last year. We opened up a window for those who were near retirement to take early retirement and many took advantage of it. This allowed us to meet our budget cuts without laying off employees, but it also meant we could not refill the vacant positions.

Because of the drastic reductions in staffing, we undertook a strategic planning process in 2010 called "Review of County Operations." This helped us make some decisions about how we would staff our county offices and how we could continue to effectively deliver programs with the resources we had. While this plan had many components, a big part of it was what we called the county tier structure. This was an effort to prioritize our staffing needs while maintaining the county delivery system. The idea was to maintain our county office infrastructure so that we could rebuild our capacity when times got better.

The good news is, the plan is working! At our lowest point in July 2011 we had a total of 232 county agents. State funding supported 213 of these in some part. This number does not count the retiree rehires who helped us keep programs going when we couldn't hire permanent replacements. At this point we had lost 102 county agent positions from the number we had in July 2009. As of March of 2013, that number was up to 280 agents. Some 262 of these had state funding.

In fact, in the past 12 months we have hired 46 new county agents into Georgia Cooperative Extension. This number does not include those who transferred from one agent position to another. It includes only those who are newly hired county agents. Laura Johnson in Southwest District gets the prize. She has been in her position as district director for almost a year and in that time she has hired 20 new agents. She has been a busy lady!

The interesting thing about this is we were able to do this without additional state funds. It was done mostly by using money from vacant positions and aggressively leveraging that to obtain more local funds to fill these critical vacancies. In some cases we were also able to upgrade vacant classified positions with a few extra dollars to create an agent position where one did not previously exist. The district directors and county coordinators deserve a lot of credit for being creative and considering all possibilities to create these positions.

We are definitely a long way from where we desire to be in terms of staffing our county offices, but we are headed in the right direction. Maybe next year we can get some help from the state budget to move us closer to our goal.


Agriculture and Natural Resources

Steve Brown Steve Brown, ANR State Program Leader, 706/542-1060,

Fight Off Complacency

Recently, I joined several other Extension administrators and agents representing GACAA at the Association of County Commissioners of Georgia (ACCG) Conference in Savannah. This is an annual event and as with many recurring events, I sometimes have to work hard to fight off the tendency to become complacent.

Sometimes it seems like we are just retracing our steps from the exact same meeting at the exact same place at the exact same time as last year. But in this case, the county commissioners constantly change and we have to educate them about how we can make life back in their home counties better.

This year, our booth used a new and improved version of a computer application that instantly displayed some critical statistics for each and every commissioner that happened by. Since we were strategically positioned at the entrance to the great food served up by the GACAA Farmhouse, a lot of them happened by.

With the simple click of a mouse on a map of Georgia, we could show a commissioner his or her county's high school graduation rate, average household income, number of school age children, 4-H participation, farmgate income and a crop's relative contribution to that farmgate income. Most commissioners were surprised by at least one piece of information on the screen and made a mental connection to how Cooperative Extension programs relate to that number.

There's no way of knowing how those short discussions will impact how we are perceived by county government, but I've got to believe our time and travel money were well spent. We have to constantly fight off complacency. Little things matter.

Last week, I attended the funeral of my first entomology professor at Auburn University. After having a positive impact on my life and a lot of naïve young college kids like me, Dr. Max Bass later became the director of UGA's Coastal Plain Experiment Station. I went on to become an entomologist and later assumed that same role. Dr. Bass taught many entomology classes and could have easily become complacent the semester I landed in his classroom. Instead, his enthusiasm for his chosen profession was apparent in each of his classes and that enthusiasm positively impacted my life.

Fight off complacency and let your enthusiasm positive impact someone's life.


Family and Consumer Sciences

Deborah MurrayDeborah Murray, FACS State Program Leader, 706/542-4862,

Walk Georgia Will be Expanded Thanks to Coca-Cola Partnership

Last week, Coca-Cola Founders' Day was held at the World of Coca-Cola in Atlanta in recognition of the 127th anniversary of the founding of the company. At the event, Muhtar Kent, Coca-Cola chairman and CEO, Governor Nathan Deal, and Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed announced a partnership that included the University of Georgia and Cooperative Extension.

The Coca-Cola Foundation pledged nearly $4 million to organizations across the company's hometown and home state to provide increased access to community physical activity and nutrition education programs.

Those attending from UGA with me were Cliff Baile (obesity initiative leader), Diane Hartzell (program coordinator for the obesity initiative), Maria Bowie, Beverly Sparks, Tony Tyson, Greg Price, Arch Smith, Menia Chester, Robert Brannen, Jan Baggarly, Jackie Ogden, Mary Ann Johnson, Victoria Prevatt, Tricia Chastain, Rob Cooper and Kim Gentry.

The event even made the Wall Street Journal in an article titled Shaping a Healthier Georgia: One Step at a Time. The article states "Walk Georgia was created by the University of Georgia's Cooperative Extension Service. This initiative focuses on community-oriented physical activity programs customized by community members. Participants can engage in a variety of activities such as dancing, cycling and gardening and convert those actions into steps. Those steps are converted into miles. As participants accumulate miles, they virtually move across a map of the state, viewing fun facts about each county visited and learning new ways to improve health."

So what does this mean to Georgia Extension?

We will receive $1 million dollars to increase our capacity to reach more people across the state with Walk Georgia. None of the funding will be used for indirect costs here at the university. The total funds will be used to support county Walk Georgia programs. We will be hiring a fulltime Walk Georgia coordinator and other support staff who will solely support your efforts in local communities. We will use this funding to make sure we have the technology capacity to fully support the online components of Walk Georgia. This banner program depends on the engagement of all county offices and now we have the support staff and resources to do this. The quality of the Walk Georgia program and the commitment of the Walk Georgia task force made this an easy program for me to promote with Coca-Cola. I will be the project director for this funding and will work with the task force to take Walk Georgia to the next level. I will work directly with Coca-Cola to build this partnership in other ways for the benefit of the people of Georgia. Not only do you have the opportunity to create a healthier community by getting people active, we have the opportunity for Extension to be recognized as a vital part of the health of Georgia.

One-Year Anniversary

May 7 was my one-year anniversary here at UGA. Although the May 8 Coca-Cola announcement was a highlight, it isn't the only thing that has made this a special year. Working with committed Extension administrators, CECs and Extension agents across the state has been the highlight. We have achieved much together and I am pleased to say I am a Georgian.


4-H and Youth Development

Arch SmithArch Smith, 4-H & Youth Development State Program Leader, 706/542-4H4H,

Last month the Georgia Association of Extension 4-H Agents held their annual meeting at Rock Eagle 4-H Center. 4-H professionals from other states, including agents from Tennessee, Oklahoma, Florida, and National 4-H Council were invited. President Lynn Davis and the GAE4-HA Board provided excellent professional development opportunities for those in attendance. Congratulations to the new slate of officers and board members. We are thankful for the leadership of Past-President Lynn Davis and know that President Dorothea Graham will continue the fine work. Remaining officers are President-Elect, Greg Hickey; Vice-President, Kate Whiting; Secretary, Abby Smith; and Treasurer, Pam Bloch.

Over the last days of April, 4-H agents, 4-H associates and 4-H program assistants joined the state 4-H staff for the 4-H program preview at Rock Eagle. The strength of Georgia 4-H is in the professional staff members who lead volunteers and young people in positive youth development programs offered by county 4-H offices.

During the program preview, we provided an outline of changes and program materials that will be available during the next 4-H program year. We also provided a challenge for county programs to increase participation in the base programs of 4-H including school club meetings, project achievement, summer camp and State 4-H Council. The materials and presentations from the 2013 4-H Program Preview are available on the Web.

We were fortunate that Mr. Harold Darden, the much revered and now-retired associate state 4-H leader and national 4-H Hall of Fame member, closed the program preview with an inspiring lunch address on Tuesday. Mr. Darden will be recognized as the fifth recipient of the Georgia 4-H Lifetime Achievement Award at the Georgia 4-H Gala on Aug. 10, 2013. Mr. Darden shared that he was still collecting from the experiences he had as a 4-H leader since joining Georgia Extension some 66 years ago. Still fresh from Mr. Darden's remarks, two days later I stepped into a fast food restaurant for lunch. The establishment was filled with middle school students and their teachers who were on a weeklong field trip across southeast Georgia. As I left the counter to find a place to sit, a young man greeted me, "Hey, Mr. Arch!" I stopped and asked if he was a 4-H member. His eager reply was a proud, "Yes." During the next few minutes, he told me he was a district winner in the junior archery project and would be attending the state archery match the next Saturday. Visiting with this young man was the bright moment during a difficult day. I connected with Mr. Darden's "collecting" comment. While we may not always know of our influence, it is important to remember that each of you is a 4-H leader who is making a difference every day in the lives of young people. That young 4-H archer certainly made a difference in my day.


Outstanding Extension program

We are pleased to announce that the May winner for the Outstanding Extension Program contest is the Backyard Poultry Workshop program coordinated by Sam Ingram with Jackson County Cooperative Extension and Bob Waldorf with Banks County Cooperative Extension.

The Backyard Poultry Workshop gave important information to participants already in poultry production and those interested in starting a small flock. With the increase suburbanization of Northeast Georgia, many residents in this area are desiring credible information on small scale poultry production that they can put into practice on their small acreage farms.

This workshop addressed a growing interest in small poultry flock production through presentations from UGA State Specialist, Dr. Casey Ritz; Georgia Department of Agriculture Director of Food Safety, Mr. Oscar Garrison; and founder of the International Poultry Center, Mr. Jim Adkins.

Backyard Poultry WorkshopThe large group of 71 participants from eight different counties gained information on selection of breeds, pasture based poultry management, disease and insect management, nutrition, zoning laws, and marketing regulations. Local poultry feed and equipment businesses Boling Farm Supply, Tucker Milling and Manna Pro sponsored the program by providing a light meal and refreshments to all participants. From participant evaluations at the end of the workshop, 100% believed their knowledge on backyard poultry production increased, 100% believed the information presented was useful and 91% are likely to implement practices gained from the workshop to their farms.


Personnel actions since April 1, 2013

New Hires

  • Bacon County – Renee Holland, Public Serv Asst – Blueberry Farm, 6/1/2013
  • Cook County – Bonnie Mitchell, Public Serv Rep, 4/1/2013
  • Evans County – Kali Wasdin, Co Extension Associate, 6/1/2013
  • Glynn County – Adrien Crapps, Public Serv Rep, 5/1/2013
  • Houston County – April Baggs, 4-H Agent-Public Serv Rep, 5/1/2013
  • Houston County – Rebecca Creasy, FACS-Public Serv Asst, 5/1/2013
  • Houston County – Charlotte Mote, CEC/ANR Agent-Public Serv Rep, 5/1/2013
  • Macon County – Muqita Lumumba, 4-H CEPA, 5/9/2013
  • Pulaski County – James Freeman, Public Serv Rep, 6/1/2013
  • Pulaski County – Sonya Jones, CEC/4-H Agent, 5/1/2013
  • Washington County – Georgeanne Cook, Public Serv Asst, 6/1/2013
  • Worth County – Keli Gunn, CEPA, 4/11/2013

Transfers/Position Changes

  • Ben Hill County– Jeri Gilleland, CEC/4-H Agent-Public Serv Rep, transferred from County Extension Associate, 4/1/2013
  • Oglethorpe County – Marcus Eason, Public Serv Rep, transferred from County Extension Associate, 6/1/2013


  • Brooks County – Johnny Whiddon, Public Serv Assoc, 4/30/2013
  • Grady County – Alisha Barnes, 4-H CEPA (county-funded), 5/1/2013
  • Jackson County – Teresa Edwards, County Secretary, 5/17/2013